Muscle Overuse Injuries – Getting it right!

Overuse Injuries

Overuse strain injury. Overuse strain injury definition. (Or “repetitive strain injury“, RSI, “repetitive strain disorder”): Any tendon or muscle injury resulting from overuse, usually in the hand, wrist, or arm.

by: Dr Virosha Deonarain: It is always a hot topic, with more and more people becoming increasingly driven to getting that slim waist and toned legs that celebrities are always flaunting…but its true…getting your body active again, as when you were a child, is nature’s way of maintaining a youthful you.  The health benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are hard to ignore. And the benefits of exercise are yours for the taking, regardless of your age, sex or physical ability.

However with the great interest being taken into getting physically fit, therapists have noted a great increase in overuse injuriesOveruse injuries can happen when you try to take on too much physical activity, too quickly.  This maybe any type of muscle or joint injury, such as tendinitis or a stress fracture, that’s caused by repetitive trauma. An overuse injury typically stems from:

1.   Training Errors

2.     Technique Errors

Training errors can occur when you enthusiastically take on too much physical activity too quickly. Going too fast, exercising for too long or simply doing too much of one type of activity can strain your muscles and lead to an overuse injury.

Improper technique can also take its toll on your body. If you use poor form as you do a set of strength training exercises, swing a golf club or bowl a cricket ball, for example, you may overload certain muscles and cause an overuse injury.

It’s always a good idea to consult your therapist prior to starting out any exercise program or ramping up your routing.  Each person is designed with their own abilities or inabilities.  A general exercise program that is not suited to an individual can actually wreak havoc in the long run.  For example, if you have a muscle weakness in a shoulder, your therapist can guide you with exercises that will address the actual problem and prevent an elbow injury.

Most overuse injuries can be avoided if you :

  1. Do it right! Using the correct technique is CRUCIAL to preventing overuse injuries.  Whether you are starting a new activity or you’ve been playing a sport for a long time, consider taking lessons or ask the professionals before injuring yourself.
  2. Use the right gear – wearing proper shoes, is essential in preventing an ankle, knee and hip injury, all at once.  We all have different tendencies of foot movement (pronators, supinators, neutral).  Most sports shops have the tools to assess your foot and suggest the best type of shoe for yourself.   If you exercise regularly, consider replacing your shoe for every 480 km’s you walk or run or at least twice a year or
  3. Do not become a “Week-end Warrior” – compressing your physical activity for the week into two days can lead to overuse injuries.  Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity — preferably spread throughout the week.  Make sure to warm up before physical activity and cool down afterwards.
  4. Gradually increase your activity level, when changing the intensity or duration of a physical activity.  For example, if you want to increase the amount of weight you’re using while strength training increase it by no more than 10 % each week until you reach your new goal.
  5. Add variety to your routine, so that your body is able to use different muscle groups, preventing impact to just one group.  Low impact activities (water jogging, walking, biking), when done in moderation enables your body to use different muscle groups preventing an overuse of a particular muscle.
  6. REST – Rest days are greatly underrated!  Your body needs to be able to rest from strenuous activity. Rest is physically necessary so that the muscles can repair, rebuild and strengthen. Recovery also allows the body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues.


Treating Workout Injuries

If you develop a workout injury, follow the RICE method to keep your injury from getting worse:

  • R: rest the injury
  • I: ice the injury to lessen swelling, bleeding, and inflammation
  • C: apply a compression bandage to minimize swelling
  • E: elevate the injury to reduce swelling

Most workout injuries will heal on their own in four weeks or less. If the injury has not improved within a week, or if it gets worse, seek medical care. And always use common sense. If you’re concerned about the injury, it’s best to seek medical advice.

Until you are fully healed, avoid doing the activity that triggered the injury. And avoid any activity that puts strain on the injured area.

You can still be active as long as you don’t stress the injury. Staying active may help you heal quicker than if you take to the couch. Try a new workout while your injury heals. For example, if you sprain your ankle, exercise your arms instead. If you hurt your shoulder, work out your legs by walking.

After you have fully recovered from your injury — pain-free for more than a week — start back slowly. Don’t try to work out with the same fervor you did before your injury. You will need to rebuild your muscle strength and endurance. It may take three weeks of regular exercise to regain your pre-injury fitness level. If you push too hard and too fast, you may injure yourself again.

It is worth having regular check-ups with your chiropractor, to maintain good form and in doing so, enhancing your performance.

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